Yorkshire is famed for its beautiful countryside and its main hub, Leeds, is one of the UK’s greenest cities. Situated in West Yorkshire, Leeds has numerous parks and open spaces making it rich in biodiversity and ecology. It’s home to 700-acre Roundhay Park, one of Europe’s biggest parks, along with 62 community parks.
Leeds City Council is keen to preserve and protect nature; it wants to increase the number of trees in the city and has pledged to plant 5.8 million more. Adding to this impetus are government and community tree-planting initiatives.
Trees and development
This focus on the natural world may prove problematic for developers seeking planning permission to get projects off the ground. Despite Leeds having areas suitable for development, local authorities are keen to retain sites of environmental value and trees can be a significant barrier to the planning process.
The expertise of an arboricultural consultancy may well be required to assess the impact of a proposed scheme on trees and satisfy the requirements of the local planning authority.
Leeds’ tree strategy
Leeds City Council website provides information about its regulations around tree works. These include the fact that a developer must check that a tree is not subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or any existing planning conditions, or in a listed conservation area. It may also be necessary to find out whether a felling licence from the Forestry Commission would be needed prior to any tree removal.
Tree Preservation Orders and conservation areas are the most common protections afforded to trees by local authorities. Tree Preservation Orders are placed on individual trees, while a large number or group of trees within a conservation area can be protected. Local authorities must give prior consent before any trees with either of these protections are disturbed. It’s worth noting that damaging or removing trees without planning consent can lead to criminal prosecution or heavy fines.
Tree surveys for planning permission
If you are advised by your local planning authority that you need a tree survey to accompany your planning application, the baseline assessment to be carried out is the British Standard BS5837 tree survey. Once arranged with a reputable arboricultural consultancy, an arboricultural consultant will visit and assess all existing trees on your site and nearby trees. The tree report will record the condition and value of each tree, rating them using a grading system.
While trees rated as poor in quality may be destroyed, an arboricultural surveyor will always prefer to keep as many trees as possible that are in good condition and are unlikely to cause a problem for the development. If trees that are of high value are obstructing the development, the arboriculturist may propose moving them elsewhere.
On completing the tree inspections, the consultant will create a comprehensive report to explain the wide range of data gathered and their findings. The tree report will give details of recommendations for retained trees and tree removal on the site. It will also propose mitigating measures that will help your project demonstrate feasibility and enable you to progress to submitting a planning application.
Other types of tree survey
Following a BS5837 tree survey, you may be asked by the local planning authority to provide further tree surveys. These include Impact Assessment, Method Statement and Tree Protection plans, along with Arborical Supervision, Site Monitoring, and Tree Protection Plans.
A tree condition survey
This tree survey may be needed by landowners, estate managers or land managers to address health and safety issues and prevent injury, or assess tree condition: such surveys are often requested to assess trees for potential liabilities.
A mortgage tree report
This tree report is often required by a home buyer or land buyer to satisfy their mortgage lender or insurer: it assesses relevant trees in terms of their safety and any potential risks. It might be recommended that remedial tree works are carried out.
Find an arboricultural consultancy
If you are moving house and require a tree survey, the first step is to get in touch with a reputable arboricultural consultancy with experience in conducting the type of tree report that you need. Read their reviews and check that the consultants are fully qualified and hold relevant licences and accreditations before engaging them. Identifying the right firm in good time can prevent unnecessary delays in achieving planning consent.